Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterised by low bone mass, otherwise referred to as BMD, structural deterioration and porous bones which are at increased risk of fracture. Bone loss relating to declining estrogen levels increases fracture risk in postmenopausal women who make up the majority of cases.
How To Recognise Osteoporosis
Previously, it was considered a normal part of the ageing process, however, it now understood to be both preventable and treatable. The best way to address osteoporosis is to prevent it happening altogether thereby reducing the risk of fracture.
Fractures as a result of osteoporosis are known as osteoporotic fractures and happen as the result of slight amounts of stress that would not normally lead to fractures in non-osteoporotic people. Often these fractures occur in in the vertebral column, hip and wrist. It is more common for women to suffer from osteoporosis because of the role that hormones play in bone health.
What Are The Risk Factors?
There are various things, both biological and lifestyle-related, which can increase your chance of developing osteoporosis including:
- Estrogen deficiency in women
- Advanced age
- Low body weight
- Thyroxine excess (overactive thyroid; over-treatment with thyroxine)
- Prolonged intake of steroid prescriptions
- Low calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2
- Intake of carbonated soft drinks
- Inadequate physical activity (especially load-bearing)
- Medications that interfere with mineral absorption from the diet, such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors.
- Osteopenia is a condition that can lead to osteoporosis due to reduced bone mineral density. However, not every person diagnosed with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.
How Do We Treat and Prevent Osteoporosis?
Hormones play a key part in the development and protection of bones and therefore treatment with hormones can be a key factor in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Anyone concerned that they may be at risk of developing it or believes they have already should seek a medical opinion and if diagnosed everyone’s treatment plan should be specific and tailored to them. In order to get a comprehensive picture of a patient’s hormone, mineral and vitamin levels we at the Marion Gluck Clinic carry out comprehensive tests, such as a DEXA bone density scan, which will then help discover which hormonal treatment should be prescribed. Examination of a person’s bone density is undertaken before treatment and then at regular intervals during treatment.
The hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and vitamin D, play a vital part in maintaining and improving bone density. By balancing and replenishing these hormones our doctors can increase bone density and help prevent or manage osteoporosis. Alongside hormone therapy, supplementation (calcium) and lifestyle changes (weight-bearing exercise, tobacco avoidance, reduced alcohol consumption) play an important role in osteoporosis prevention.